Just Write ~ The Sixth

October 17, 2011

She doesn’t fit her age, I think. She’s still a sprite of a thing, fast footed through the hall of the house.  Her body is aching these days though, all over she says, but she makes it look easy.  I know it’s not even close to easy. Her arms swing a little at her sides and her posture is better than mine. She heads to the kitchen to get apple crisp ready for us.  I wonder if it hurts her knees or hips to walk and her fingers and wrist to serve up the crisp.

My Grandma, she makes the best apple crisp. And lefse, for the record.

We sit down and look out the window and she tells the story of her half sister, the one she didn’t know until later in life. How their mother had her very young, before she was married, and she was a blue baby. She says, That’s what they called them back then. A blue baby. Everyone at the birth, the doctor and her family, told her mother to let that blue baby die.  But the midwife didn’t give up. She drove miles and miles to a hospital and they saved her. To be found by her sisters later in life. I wonder what the midwife did to keep her alive for all those miles.

After this sister-baby survived, there was an agreement made. An infertile couple would adopt the baby, making payment by giving the mother and her family a restaurant. The restaurant I’ve heard about all these years. The one where my grandparents would one day meet.  My Grandma would grow up working there, not knowing her sister.

It was an uneven exchange–a place for a person.

Grandma sums it up with, Yeah…it’s quite the story. And I wonder if it hurts her heart.

When the story is told, it feels so close. Like I could reach out and touch that blue baby, and in some ways, I am. A picture of her sits behind me on the counter; a recent shot of her with my parents. And then there’s her flesh and blood sister sitting across from me and the way we’re all connected, through stories and veins.

I think about how Elsie came out low on oxygen and was rushed away. She’s sleeping on my chest as Grandma tells me this story and I tuck her closer and wonder aloud how it felt for my Great Grandmother to let her baby girl go…

Wow. That must have been such a weight to carry around…but I suppose your mom just told herself it worked out for the best. I’m half asking.

She scoops up the last of her apple crisp and cream and says yes.

My Grandma has eighty-something years of stories like these; some less heavy, but all her stories just the same. Lately I’ve been asking questions. I want to know it all.


If you don’t read all of this, please be sure to read the BOLD parts…

This is the sixth installment of Just Write, an exercise in free writing your ordinary and extraordinary moments. {Please see the details here.}  I would love to read your freely written words so join me and link up below. You can add the url of your post at any time. Just be sure it’s a link to your Just Write post, not to your main page. Then link back to this post in your post so people know where to go if they’d like to join in. (Any links not following those two guidelines will be deleted.) 

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